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# So, another three weeks of radio silence (sorry!), but I really didn't have the energy. I actually started to write this post two weeks ago after I'd passed the final ECDL Core module and celebrated by letting G. drag me to one of his friends' birthday party, drinking a bit too much, almost getting lost on the roof of the WU building, and coming home at 3 am. Fell asleep every time I found myself in a horizontal position on Sunday, and as a result never managed finish the entry, and this weekend wasn't much better. I've passed Word Advanced on Friday, but it left me in a weird state of mind, completely wired and exhausted at once, unable to relax, even though I'd been looking forward to a free weekend. Went for a 5 1/2 hrs. walk today to get the jittery restlessness out of my system, which did help, but I'm already resisting the urge to stop writing and lie down. More personal stuff & ECDL woes. )

# That said, I really do miss fanish discussions and writing rambling meta. I re-read parts of my last Jack/Ianto meta recently, and leaving aside the irony that I wrote it at a time when there were all of ten people left in the fandom interested in both the ship and a take on it that didn't dismiss CoE, there are bits there that I'm really proud of, and I do miss that feeling of ideas clicking and coming together. So the plan is to pass the ECDL Advanced exams for Excel and Access over the next four weeks, and then I'll give myself the rest of the year off, because it's not as if I'll have the time or energy to do any serious studying before Christmas anyway, watch the MD DVDs and (hopefully) get some writing done.

# Reading, not that much of that is happening at the moment. Re-read the first two books of Clive Barker's Abarat series, because after a seven year hiatus my memories were extremely sketchy, and am about two thirds through the third book now. spoilers )

Also read F. Zwingtman's Ich, Adrian Mayfield, which I picked up at work (the children/YA section does have its perks...), and promptly bought the two follow-up volumes after I'd finished it, but am stuck somewhere mid-second volume now, because I made the mistake to glance at the ending, which, as it turns out, isn't the happily ever after I was stupidly hoping for...

And because I'm apparently completely crazy and over-ambitious, I've started to read The Master and Margarita in Russian. I'm still missing a lot of words (which makes me feel guilty all over again for neglecting Russian so much at the moment), and have to go back and reread sentences, but it's enough to follow that plot and catch the tone and style, which maybe isn't so bad for not even four years of learning?

# Speaking of Clive Barker, I came across this poem of his while browsing in David E. Armstrong's book Rare Flesh, and it made me think of Jack, Torchwood and the whole death/immortality theme...

There'd be no love... )

# Another of these strange connections... A few weeks ago Ricardo Pinto blogged about his plans to travel to Iran since his next novel is set in Achaemenid Persia, and putting off the journey because he was invited to attend a conference about Persepolis in Edinburgh, and I clicked the link and looked at the conference program and... it doesn't even make sense, it's been almost ten years that I haven't done anything at all, but for a moment I still felt a stab of pain and regret that I gave up all that. (My diss was supposed to be about greco-persian art, that is, the art of the western satrapies of the Achaemenid empire and the mingling of the various influences, Greek, Persian, and local, in style and iconography.)

# TV. Actually, mostly I'm looking for something to feel genuinely fanish over again. I'm still watching Merlin, and I'm probably not giving it up anytime soon, because I want to see what happens when Merlin finally reveals his magic, which is bound to be fairly epic, given the ever-increasing amount of lies and complications, but apparently S3 and the way Morgana's arc was handled has irreversibly soured the show for me. Spoilers for 4.01 - 4.04 )

With DW I didn't even finish the season. I stopped watching after Let's Kill Hitler, mostly because I didn't have the time anyway and haven't been interested for a while, but really, if you keep emphasising that time can be rewritten at every turn, then you better come up with a very, very convincing reason why in this specific instance it can't, or why the Doctor doesn't even bother to try. I know people found MD offensive for using the holocaust as a history-repeating-itself analogy, and I can understand that, but personally I find LKH rather more distasteful, because MD at least kept things firmly in the realm of analogy and fiction, while LKH blithely plays around with over 60 million dead, effectively using them as a backdrop for the latest instalment of the Doctor/River romance...

In conclusion, wanted: a new show and some fanish enthusiasm. Or I'm just getting too old and cynical?


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# Real life. (Blah.)

I was planning to go for a walk today, but then I slept until 10-ish, breakfasted and wasted time on the internet, practiced Excel, had a bit of lunch, half-heartely thought about where I might go, couldn't decide, and ultimately decided that I needed a lazy stay-at-home day after last weekend's stress.

Also decided I'll do the ECDL certificate after all, since I've already done the Excel and Access classes and can learn the rest from books, and will probably do a HTML/CSS class in September, since I've always vaguely wanted to learn that from a scratch and be able to do more than just type a few basic codes... So there I was, feeling unusually active and hopeful, until I randomly browsed through job adds a couple of days ago and pretty much ended up thinking, why even bother, I can just kill myself now, because I'll never be qualified for, or do anything other than retail. Stupid, pessimistic, mood-swingy brain. But maybe it is right, after all?

What also irritates me is that I've done barely any reading at all recently, mostly because when I'm reading it's Lukianenko's NIght Watch series in Russian, and for obvious reasons that takes up a disproportionate amount of time. It's kind of fascinating, though. )

# Various media stuff:

* Saw Thor with G., and, just, gah. Either it's because I'm not familiar with the (comic book) source, or I'm simply getting too old for these kind of movies, but I found it almost insultingly bad. The worst thing was, it was actually my idea to see it, because I was a huge fan of Kenneth Branagh a longish while ago, and... )

* Stuck about two thirds into Smallville S6... Lj tells me it's been over three years since I watched S5, but in many ways it's as if I never left at all... )

One of these days I'm going to write something rambly about the whole identifying-with-characters issue. Because I honestly have no idea why I always fall for the characters I fall for, who, as a rule, have nothing whatsoever in common with me, at least as far as I can make out.

# Also watched RTD's Dark Season (1991) and Century Falls (1993). They're both a bit too children orientated for my taste, and the stories are nothing much (although they both do have their moments), but I enjoyed Dark Season especially. It's a bit DW-ish, and the characters are just thoroughly enjoyable. There's a young Kate Winslet as Reet, and the girl playing Marcy just radiates a certain Doctor-ness. Which is probably more due to RTD writing her, but I could so see her as a female Doctor. Actually, I'm going to pretend she's a Time Lord now. Miss Maitland, exasperated and torn between believing and not believing is also a rather lovely character.

Wherever you are, whoever you are, there's always a strangeness in things. )

(The whole thing also dates like whoa, but that can't be helped with a story from the early 1990ies involving computers. In 1991 I think I actually still typed my proseminar papers on a type writer...)

Century Falls sort of gives the impression that it's trying to get somewhere more ambitious and dramatic, without quite succeeding (yet), but it also has its moments, all those old ladies, and generally speaking enough female characters to pass half a dozen Bechdel tests...

* Somehow, I'm still watching A Game of Thrones. I don't know... there's still stuff I'm not too happy with and I'm not even particularly interested in all the political scheming and violence, but the characters have definitely drawn me in, and even more than that I want to know more about the mythology of it all, the dragons, the Wall, the White Walkers, and the winter, which they keep hinting at. (Also, although that is nothing new, I'm really, really bad at recognising actors. I eventually, and perhaps not entirely coincidentally when he started talking about cannibalism, recognised the actor who played the guy from the cannibal village in Countycide, but I didn't recognise Aiden Gillen at all... Imdb tells me Sibel Kekilli is also in there, but who is Shae?

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I should maybe update again? Finally drove to Salzburg last Thursday, via a very scenic route in both senses of the word, following the Danube until Grein, because you can only take the Westautobahn so many times before getting bored out of your mind, and that was already a gorgeous start to this holiday, sun glittering on the water, the vineyard terraces on the hills that at this time of the year, without the cover of vegetation, gave the whole landscape a somewhat scarred, patched up look...

Friday and Saturday were incredibly beautiful, sunny but hazy, a blue sky behind a veil, distances blurred, all creating a very dreamlike, almost unreal, magical mood. Biked to Salzburg Friday afternoon and took a long walk around the Mönchsberg, the city lovely below, shining in bright pastels against the background of muted browns and light blues. Saturday I drove to Bad Ischl, but ended up just walking around a lot, aimlessly following various footpaths. It makes me feel so uncultured, but I'm really not in the mood for sightseeing or museums these days. I want to either be outside, or read or write. Then drove on to Obertraun, because I wanted to check something out, and walked along the Hallstätter See until the sun disappeared behind the mountains. It was so gorgeous I can't even begin to describe it. I had the camera with me, but no photo would have adequately captured the mood, so I didn't even bother taking it out. Felt surprisingly relaxed and at peace; usually it takes me at least several days to get into this mood.

Sunday was mostly overcast and I stayed indoors, and yesterday the weather changed. Everything is bright and clear now, colours are deeper and warmer already, and it feels more like spring. Still beautiful, but in a different way, and not quite as ethereally magical. Slightly intimidating, for some reason.

What else? I'm spending quite a bit of time beating into shape the Jack/Ianto meta I'm currently writing (I know, I know. I hadn't actually thought it'd be possible to find something new to write on this subject either, but turns out I was wrong. God knows I wasn't planning on this. But it's actually quite good, or at least that's how it felt yesterday when I'd finally transformed the S2 chapter from a formless mess I rather hated, because the main argument is really in S1, into something that made sense and fit logically.)

Still, though. When have I lost the knack of writing meta under 5000 words? I'm at ca. 8300, and the CoE part is only a draft, because I've only just rewatched D1 and D2 yesterday. It's strange... I haven't even cried after the first time, it's not as if I'm falling into a pit of depression for days afterwards, but CoE is still one of these cases where there's always this moment of hesitancy, where I keep putting it off and off, vague thoughts of whether I really want to put myself through this, until I finally give myself a push. Sometimes I wonder if I'd have rewatched it at all if I hadn't wanted to write about it.

Meanwhile, I'm also reading Alex Ross's The Rest is Noise (huge thanks @ [ profile] un_crayon_rouge for the tip!) and am enjoying a lot. Most of the more musical theoretical stuff is of course beyond me, since I can only read music only on a very, very basic level, but it's extremely interesting from a historic perspective, and really helps me to slot into place all the names I'm already vaguely familiar with either from work or TM's diaries, giving them context and chronology.

*sigh* It's Tuesday already, almost the middle of the second week of my holiday. First week of March. Why does there always seem to be too little time, especially for the stuff I love doing, that makes me feel like myself?

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I was planning to go out with the camera today since we got quite a bit of snow over the last few days and it's (presumably) really pretty once you get out of the city, but I turned off the alarm, slept until ten, finally crawled out of bed around 11-ish and didn't have the energy for anything at all. Plus, there's Russian homework that still needs to be written. Yesterday wasn't even particularly stressful, but I've been hurting in one place or the other for the last two weeks, and I have absolutely no tolerance for that kind of thing. My body is supposed to function, damn it, and I hate it when it doesn't. It's enough that my psyche sabotages me all the time. But at least the pain medication doesn't seem to have lastingly upset my stomach...

On the downside, I seem to have developed a quite scary craving for chocolate and sugar. Apparently I can either have stomach problems, or a body I'm moderately happy and content with, but not both.

~ ~ ~

Read Ellen Kushner's story The Man with the Knives, and, meh. I still adore Swordspoint, but every single thing she's written afterwards left me wishing she'd finally leave that universe and those characters alone and create something entirely new. I don't remember much about The Fall of the Kings, except that it left me extremely frustrated and completely indifferent to the characters, and that the sudden introduction of supernatural elements into a universe that used to be entirely secular struck me as odd and OOC. The Privilege of the Sword seemed overly fanservice-y and even though getting a sort of happy ending for Richard and Alec was nice, I still wish she'd stuck to telling the girls' stories and made it a lesbian love story. I ended up liking the protagonist quite a bit, and throwing her into a novel along with already established characters IMO diminished the impact of her story. So now she wrote yet another, this time well and truly final ending for Richard and Alec, and it's depressing as fuck. I'm especially annoyed since I always found Richard the more compelling and interesting character. Alec's overwrought angst and various neuroses are bearable only when balanced by Richard's quiet and calm; on his own he's a character that I find hard to like. And to be perfectly honest, if the story had to continue after Swordspoint (personally, I'd have much preferred it if she'd left the characters there), I would have been perfectly happy with the Greek island ending of TPotS; I didn't need to learn that Richard died (probably suicide?) and Alec's arc, after yet more angst and self-harm, ends with ~healing~ heterosexual marriage. Gah. If she wants to write more female characters, more power to her. But she should give them their own stories.

~ ~ ~

Merlin finale - good parts, blah parts, annoying parts. I'll have to rewatch the last three episodes to sort out my thoughts.

~ ~ ~

I've been wasting way too much time on YouTube recently, but a song I've listened to a lot and really love is Svetlana Surganova's Коробли (Ships). (In case anyone is actually at work on a Sunday—there's a bit of NSFW non-sexual nudity in the video.)

Tentative and probably much too literal attempt at a translation. )

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Sore throat got worse over the weekend, I'm guessing partly because I went to see Fatima Spar at the Stadtfest on Saturday and stood in the sun quite a bit, so I finally went to the doctor yesterday; was scolded for not coming earlier and self-medicating for two weeks (but seriously, do you go to the doctor when your temperature is never even above 37 and to the best of your knowledge you barely have any symptoms at all?) & left with a prescription for antibiotics (only for three days, though). Also gargling with sage tea.

Still tired.

Beginning of June, and I can count the times I've worn short sleeves on, well maybe not one, but certainly two hands. (Currently: long sleeves, jacket; 13 degrees, rain.)

Read V. Sorokin's 23000 over the weekend, the first work of fiction I've been genuinely interested in some time, and while I liked it a lot, I can't really make sense of the end at all.

Assuming the story about the 2300 is true and they really were/are God - so God accidentally creates life, traps himself in this life, finally, slowly, manages to free himself from it, wants to correct his mistake, and in trying to once again turn the universe into a lifeless waste destroys himself? Because life is stronger? The creation destroys its maker?

But if it's like that, why would Olga and Björn want to talk to God in the end? Which God? Is there some kind of Russian symbolism that I don't understand? Am I stupid? Missing something?

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# I'm not actually dead. I've even been online, more or less - I used to insist that Salzburg/Maishofen was my internet and computer free time, just me and my books, detox, but I've finally caved and bought myself usb-stick internet for my sister's old laptop that I mainly got to familiarise my Mac using self with Office, Excel, etc., which I've totally failed to do so far. But, holiday internet. *conflicted sigh* I'm not using it as much as I do at home, partly, but hopefully not only because I'm paying for bandwidth; I'm feeling quieter here, more at peace, not as compelled to follow every bit of discussion or drama, because god forbid I should miss someone being wrong on the internet somewhere; more removed from it all; but the mere fact that this whole world is there when I want it is a reassurance. Which actually scares me quite a bit. We shouldn't be so dependent on things that... are real, I'm not going to argue that, but also in a way seem very fragile and... disappearable? Which isn't a word, I know. Maybe it's not having grown up with all this technology that makes me a bit wary of its permanence and ultimate reliability.

# Anyway. Had seven rather nice days of skiing... )

# With all this and my whole lack-of-fitness related state of constant tiredness I didn't get a lot of reading done so far. Finished re-reading TM's Königliche Hoheit, which I still find kind of... sad. There are brilliant ironic and genuinely funny parts, but the love story, while touching, strikes me as more melancholy than not.

Then read R. Safanski's Heidegger biography (Ein Meister aus Deutschland), which I picked rather randomly out of my father's bookcase for no very good reason, except that I vaguely wanted to start getting over my complete stupidity/lack of understanding/slight apprehension when it comes to philosophy, which I've always avoided because it seemed a bit too abstract for my too-materialist, too-concrete brain that finds it easier to look for models and answers in history, sociology and psychology, and found it readable and interesting when I opened it and gave it a cursory glance. And at least in the first part of the book Safranski did manage to convey even to me an idea what philosophy can be about, and while the philosophic parts were a bit of a difficult read at first for the complete newbie lacking even a good part of the basic terminology, also an impression of where Heidegger was going with his ideas. But then of course there's the inherent question about the worth of philosophy when it doesn't stop the philosopher from being just as fallible and wilfully blind as the next average, unphilosophic person... In any case, it was a fascinating introduction into the history of thought in the 20th century, and I found at least Heidegger's early philosophy with its importance of questions instead of answers, deconstruction of absolutes and emphasis on personal perception and immediate experience of living interesting, if a little too... self-involved, maybe, in the end? It touches something I've been wondering myself - how much, how far can you deconstruct absolutes and preconceptions, something that studying history does, too, until you're left with nothing, floating in relatives, questioning and second guessing your every opinion? Feeling like you're losing yourself in all the ifs and buts and OTOHs and looking at everything from every possible angle? And what then? Where, to quote Buffy & Co, do we go from here? Are there any answers? Or is this only a problem because on some fundamental level my ex-catholic brain hasn't quite given up wanting or believing in the existence of absolutes?

[On a side-note, in my personal and admittedly once again completely materialist opinion the next major revolution about human thought and self-perception, the definition of man and structure of society will be caused by what science will discover about the function of the human brain over the next decades.]

It also totally made me want to write something about the philosophic background in TW, which I guess is wildly, wildly inappropriate? Not to mention completely presumptuous and idiotic considering my vague to the point of barely-there-at-all knowledge about 20th century philosophy. But I already have ideas & notes! Gah! Read about Heidegger and wrote notes about Jack. Oh dear. *facepalm* But he's such a classic example of being 'thrown' into life, and if it isn't the knowledge of his own mortality that defines his life (rather the reverse), it's everyone else's. Would it be possible to do this sticking strictly to the TW-text and not dragging and actual philosophers into it & thereby making an utter fool of myself?

# Saw Avatar with G. last week before I left & was mainly bored & more bored (also cramped after three hours & I still find 3D movies exhausting to watch), although I have to say I kind of liked Neytiri. What completely baffles me is that apparently you can spend what must have been an absolutely indecent amount of money on the special effects, and still have a script & dialogue that are this bad. What could a good script writer have cost in comparison?

# I'll have to catch up with all the recorded figure skating when I come home, but I'm sad that Lambiel didn't make it on the podium. This was the one Olympic fairytale I really wanted to see happen.

# Friday already! Having to drive home the day after tomorrow. Still so much Russian homework to do. Back to work on Monday. I think I'm going to be sick.
solitary_summer: (...singen die sirenen)
Much better now. Friday evening I thought I simply wasn't going to be able to do this for another two weeks, physically or mentally, but what with the rain yesterday work was mostly (minus a bit of dusting and some 30 for the most part and not counting that annoying German couple who wanted recommendations for children's books five minutes before closing time, non-complicated and non-offensive customers) six hours of comfortably sitting around and reading. Walked home through a drizzle since I haven't had time yet to collect the bike (although OTOH I'm seriously considering at least occasionally leaving it at home in the future and walk, because that means some 80 minutes of Russian vocabulary on my iPod per day...), dinner, an ill-timed nap from 7-9 pm, after which I felt strangely dislocated and spent a good part of the rest of the evening watching bits of a German soap on YouTube.

Was supposed to see the new Almodóvar film with R. today, but since she's still sick took myself off to a long walk in the late afternoon, heading straight out of the city through the 10th district, then along the Liesingbach, finally ending up in Oberlaa, through the park, towards Simmering through the vineyards in the evening sun, and suddenly so full of energy that I didn't take the underground back, but walked all the way home again, almost bouncing along the Simmeringer Hauptstrasse with JB on the iPod, happier and more energetic than I've felt for a very long while. Some 4 hrs. all in all. Also, map, because I clearly have too much time on my hands.

Finished Everville and started rereading Galilee, and sometimes I wonder if I'm the only person who's reading Clive Barker because he invariably makes me feel better about myself, the world, humanity, ever since I bought Sacrament years ago when TR mentioned Barker in an interview and like the good NIN fangirl I was at the time I promptly went to some bookstore (pre-amazon days, or at least pre-me-&-amazon days when you still had to rely on whatever novels the English section of a Viennese bookshop would carry; sometimes it's downright scary how fast things are changing...) and picked up the first, er, only, CB novel I found there.

I don't know how he does it, but somehow he makes my too-literal and completely-lacking-in-imagination brain that ran smack! into some mental wall every time the therapist asked me to imagine myself in some kind of different situation, happily follow him as he anihilates all the borders between the real and the fantastic, horror and mystery, the physical and the transcendent, and effortlessly makes me - atheistic, über-realistic me - almost want to believe that the world is really such a miraculous place. Or at least that our minds can be.

(Also, I love his female characters. Coldheart Canyon isn't my favourite novel, but how many novels are there where overweight, obsessive female fans are sympathetic co-protagonists with a journey of their own?)

I also kind of wonder, sometimes, why every single author who's had a major influence on me, from Oscar Wilde to E.M.Forster to Virginia Woolf to Marguerite Yourcenar to Derek Jarman to Clive Barker to Thomas Mann has been (more or less) gay. Not that I think this is a bad thing, obviously, but I do wonder what exactly is the pattern here...

And speaking of books, there's finally a new one out by Eva Menasse, but (*sigh*) it's a collection of short stories. Confession time - I hate short stories. However well something is written, unless I get at least a few hundred pages to immerse myself in a story and its characters it just never seems worth bothering.

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I've read so little recently that it's probably only my struggle with Russian vocabulary & such that keeps my brain from completely evaporating - or at least that's what I hope -, but I actually did finish the last volume of Ricardo Pinto's Stone Dance of the Chameleon trilogy and Corambis, the fourth volume of Sarah Monette's The Doctrine of Labyrinths.

[ETA: spoiler warning, not so much for Corambis, because if you made it through the first three volumes there isn't really anything in the fourth to actually warrant a warning, but on the off chance that someone on my friendslist doesn't know Pinto's books and wants to give them a try - personally I'd very much recommend not spoiling yourself for the ending.]

Now Pinto's book was surprise in the absolute best sense of the word. When I read the first volume a (longish) while ago I did admire the originality of the world-building (and the way he eases the reader into this completely alien world without too much obvious exposition is still equally remarkable), but I'd be lying to say it was really on the list of my favourite fantasy novels. And judging from my brief review of The Standing Dead I didn't feel all that enthusiastic about it at the time. However, these are definitely books that not only stand the test of rereading extremely well, but actually profit from it, because I'm pretty sure I enjoyed and appreciated both volumes more the second time round.

So I can't exactly claim that I've been on the edge of my seat for the last six years, but since I don't like unfinished stories and this one definitely was powerful enough to linger, I kept checking amazon occasionally, although after all this time I'd almost given up hope of ever getting the conclusion.

But now that The Third God has finally come out, I can only say it was very much worth the wait. )

Ironically with Monette's books it was the exact opposite, and it's a bit depressing to still remember how instantly I was pulled into the first volume, how much I loved it, and how my enthusiasm has gradually faded since and a story I'd loved in the end turned out to be a story that just wasn't for me. )

And now I'll really have to start packing & cleaning, if I actually want to leave to day...

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Still feeling very much like crap. It started with a sore throat last Saturday, and now I'm at the coughing & sneezing (& drinking disgusting herbal tea) stage. And to make my life complete, right in the middle of all that I got my period. Thank you, body.

I vaguely considered a trip to IKEA for today, since I need a new book shelf as well as some minor stuff, but I really don't feel up to it, not without a car, and not on a Saturday, not with an insane crowd of happy shoppers. I've got ten days off in a couple of weeks anyway, so it'll have to wait until then. It's not as if I even have the energy to clean up the residual mess from the move right now.

(But at least I'm going to have warm water next Tuesday! (Could have been yesterday if I hadn't had to close the shop and my mother hadn't been in Salzburg.) Threatening to involve the Mieterschutz apparently really does wonders - much thanks to the people from my belly-dancing class who suggested it when I had a bit of a break-down last Tuesday.)

Things I did last week beside feel like shit, drag myself to work for a few hours every day, and sleep a lot - Watch C'est la vie with R. last Sunday, which wasn't bad at all, although the latter episodes weren't as good as the first two, it started to drag just a little bit around the middle and the end was ridiculously, almost offensively, predictable. Well acted, though, and great cinematography & soundtrack. Like R. put it - it failed on a high level.

Read [ profile] alex_beecroft's new book False Colors, which kept me up until 3:30 in the morning because I literally couldn't put it down. (Also there's that tingly feeling when you already knew and loved an author back when...*g*) Also started rereading Ricardo Pinto's The Chosen, because randomly browsing amazon I found out that the last volume of the trilogy has finally come out after I'd already pretty much given up hope. I've found that rereading fantasy novels can be a bit hit-or-miss experience, but this one stands the test well enough so far, and the word building remains absolutely stunning.

(And speaking of follow-up volumes, has Clive Barker disappeared off the face of the Earth? Amazon doesn't even list the third Abarat book any more. *long suffering sigh*)

Also I finally watched the last two Dollhouse episodes a couple of days ago, and maybe it was because my brain was a bit addled with the cold, but I was very underwhelmed with the resolution, such as it was. Perhaps it's going to make more sense once I've rewatched the whole season (which I'll probably do - eventually), but the whole Alpha storyline seemed so very... random? Out of left field? And somehow hijacked the end of the season at the expense of the established characters, IMO. I'd still like to see a second season, though, so I'm pleased to hear it looks like there's going to be one.

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# Long time, no update. Mostly due to being tired and inarticulate and really boring, and did I mention tired? Slept until 11 on Sunday, and then again three or four hours in the afternoon. Didn't even manage to do my Russian homework.

# New layout, because I needed something a bit more colourful in this dreary weather, and liked this one when I saw it on someone else's journal. I only kind of wish I'd known it'd also involve hours of inapt chasing after and trying to eliminate all the underlines and bottom-borders that the usual A {text-decoration: none} typed into the custom CSS box wouldn't take care of, and then changing the link colour for the entries since the links were barely visible without the (pseudo-)underline, and giving them a mouse-over colour. However, mission accomplished. Stop laughing now, [ profile] nacktmull70. ;)

Alternatively, I wish I were less obsessive about underlined links. But I really do dislike them.

# Dollhouse ep.1 )

# Being Human ep.4 )

# There's some kind of huge TW S3 spoiler that I'll now have to avoid until, what, June? For months? Oh, *sigh*. Not that I actually hang out in TW or DW related communities, but I do remember where I found out about Snape killing Dumbledore, and it wasn't anywhere HP related...

# I got the DVD from our belly-dance show yesterday, but haven't dared watch it yet, because what if it makes me want to give up dancing out of complete embarrassment? Which would be a pity, because we're working with a veil this semester, and I do enjoy that...

# Read Robert Menasse's Die Vertreibung aus der Hölle over the weekend, the first book in a long while that I actually read from start to finish in three days and couldn't put down. Now if I only were able to say something appropriately clever about it... Part of the problem is that it's an intelligent and complex novel that I'd probably have to reread to really discuss, because I think I missed a lot, and my brain still doesn't seem to be completely online, but more importantly it struck me as a very personal book. I've read a few reviews, and most of them dwell on the the historic elements and insist that it's actually two novels, but IMO that is wrong, at least insofar as what the book is getting at and actually discussing is something beyond the sum of the two story-lines, something for which the historic elements and the whole structure of the book serves as a vehicle, a parable, a rhetoric figure, so to speak. Essentially, IMO, it's a book about identity, specifically Jewish identity, and it seems disrespectful to analyse and make assumptions from an outsider perspective.

I guess this is where people who embrace the whole 'Death of the Author' thing have it easier. I felt uncomfortable enough talking about TM's Doktor Faustus because it's such a personal novel, even if TM himself wrote a The Making Of novella emphasising how personal a book it is, and then handed over the missing pieces with the diaries, and maybe I should dig up, finish and post that entry one of these days. Not to mention he's been dead for quite a while.

# Every time I fall in love with a new show I have the tendency to friend all kinds of communities that I barely skim anymore a few weeks later mostly because of the ratio of stuff that's worth reading vs. stuff that isn't, but sometimes keeping them around is actually useful. [ profile] bbc_merlin_news linked an interesting essay by [ profile] lilithilien about Tarot symbolism in Merlin. What especially struck me in view of my own lengthy ramble about The Labyrinth of Gedref was how the image of Merlin and Arthur facing each other across the table and the two cups mirrors the Two Of Cups card in a way that I don't think can be coincidental. I'm not familiar with Tarot beyond the reading [ profile] soavezefiretto did for me once so I wasn't aware of the symbolism of the card (which essentially seems to be in keeping with the dragon's 'two halves of the same thing', and the process of getting there), or, in fact its existence, because as far as I remember it didn't turn up then, but it neatly falls into place with my own interpretation of the episode...

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Another quote from RTD's book —

To be honest, I have trouble with 'escapism' full stop. It's usually a derogatory term. Or condescending. At best, cute. [...] It makes the pastime, whether it's a hobby or a job, seem tiny and silly, when it's a vital part of your life. [...] Writing is actually my way of engaging with the world, not escaping from it.

Now admittedly unlike him I'm not making a living out of my (not-)escapism, so maybe I have something less of an argument there, but I do agree with this on several levels.

Reality (or not), art, writing; TV, storytelling and metaphysics; Andromeda, Smallville, Firefly and Bush-ite America. Broadly generalising and meandering without really going anywhere. )

Also... The Surinam toad and its reproductive habits. The things you learn on the internetz...
Half an hour later. Um. Note to self. Don't start watching animal videos on YouTube.

solitary_summer: (kamiile s/w)
First snow. Last family birthday before Christmas, my father's. Spent yesterday evening making another Schwarzwälderkirschtorte. (Incidentally, six months today until my next birthday; half a year gone already, *sigh*.) R. called in the afternoon, sounding quite desperate, she wants/needs to return the second cat she adopted since he doesn't get along with the first cat, or just doesn't get along full stop, and could I drive her/them there tomorrow? G. wants an article proof-read. My mother is a saint and fixes the belt of my belly dancing costume. Stress. My bike has a flat tyre and I've no idea when to bring it to the shop whose opening hours coincide with my own work hours. More stress.


On a completely unrelated note, reading Ruth Klüger's weiter leben I came across the following passage:

Ich bestehe auf diesen Unterscheidungen, riskiere bewußt, wenn auch ungern, die Leserin (wer rechnet schon mit männlichen Lesern? Die lesen nur von anderen Männern Geschriebenes) durch Belehrungen, die noch dazu teils von Laienpsychologie abhängig sind, zu irritieren oder gar zu brüskieren [...]

(emphasis mine; roughly translates as 'Who's counting on male readers? They only read things written by other men.')

How much of a hyperbole is that? Or is it a hyperbole at all? Truer in 1992 and before than today? On the whole it doesn't seem so very farfetched to me, because it took me a while to notice my own deeply ingrained misogynistic streak that made me almost automatically pick books written by male writers or the works of male artists. That changed to an extent over time, but it really was fandom that made me aware that the male perspective isn't necessarily... the neutral state, the default, the norm. A longish while ago I wrote an jl entry wondering whether men identify with female characters in novels as easily as female readers, or at least female readers of my generation and older who were brought up on the classics, identify with male characters. Admittedly it's probably not a universal experience; my (ex-)therapist didn't really understand when I tried to explain that, and the thought clearly hadn't occurred to her before, but I'm not completely alone either since I distinctly remember reading someone's lj-entry describing much the same thing; maybe people in slash fandom are more likely to notice and talk about these gender related issues? (My sister, when I asked her, said that in her experience men just didn't read a lot of novels. Now, is that true?)

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So tired. I'm making myself some Earl Grey tea to stay awake but the more sensible choice would be to go to bed instead... Orthodontist appointment before work tomorrow! Russian class afterwards! Belly dancing class! Car is still two light bulbs short, because those idiots forgot, needs to fixed until Wednesday. God! I need a break.

Saturday afternoon went to the Wien Museum after work to see the (turns out, rather small) Elfriede Mejchar exhibition, which I loved because this kind of thing fascinates me too, the remnants of the past, those places where city and country blend into each other, and while much of what she photographed is gone today, you can still find these contrasts sometimes. In Simmering, a couple of hundred meters from the Gasometers, Jean Nouvel, Coop Himmelb(l)au, etc., it's still a village, although probably not for very long now, which always makes me a bit wehmütig. I really need to go out with my camera again, but where's the time?

Would have loved to go home afterwards & crash, but no, book presentation, because when you're being given an invitation at the end of a job interview common sense dictates that you better make an appearance, even if you've never heard of the author and however little you might be interested in the subject - which turned out to be genuinely interesting, but still, so, so tired.


I've been reading further into RTD's book, and it's fascinating. I thought it might be disillusioning, break the forth wall too much, but I really love it, all the What-Ifs and Maybes, the stories that didn't happen, Penny becoming Donna, the Vorax; the after-deadline panics and budget compromises, rants about internet criticism ruining writers and adorable drawings of a still blue-faced Bannakaffalatta; it's kind of a whole, it makes the process of story telling so vibrant and alive.

Oh, and p. 74. Last night I suddenly realised, wrong character. It should be Owen. Seven scripts are now being rewritten, including scenes that are actually being filmed today! Lines handed to the cast on the spot!. Er. Would have saved me about 4000 words, and embarrassingly enough I already had the book lying around at home - unread - when I hit 'post' on that entry. Feeling slightly validated here, but mostly rather stupid. And maybe it did make the show better, maybe he had the right instinct, it's impossible to tell without knowing the alternative/original version, but the collateral damage from all those last minute changes is noticeable.

Still though, between this, and Merlin, and Stephen Fry's recent blog entry about how people should stop being so pedantic and nit-picky about changes and misuses of language but rather enjoy using it, - and interestingly enough some things said at yesterday's book presentation about quotations and citations and remixes and nothing ever being really 'finished' these days tied into this, too - it made me think about stories developing. Now I have to admit I tend to be one of those people who bitch when in yet another feudalism-based fantasy universe everyone (or at least every good guy) is inevitably a paragon of equality and democracy, and I did snark when in Troy - was it Briseis? I forget - killed Menelaos and at the quite unexpected end of the tv version of the Nibelungen saga that I saw a while ago, but on the other hand, maybe what Stephen Fry writes is true here also: Dive into the open flowing waters and leave the stagnant canals be. Of course some of the retellings/reworkings are better than others, J.K.Rowling, Joss Whedon, B5 and MJS using motives from LotR, Clive Barker's Imajica, but even the not so good ones are valid and mean those stories are still alive; they developed before and it's only logical that they will - and indeed have to - go on developing, reflecting a new audience's tastes and expectations and new social realities like the change in women's roles, or they'll become obsolete.


Also, a Merlin question - did Merlin's better nature/bad conscience catch up with him in the end, or did the boy Mordred somehow telepathically command him? I thought it was the latter, but I've read the former interpretation, so I'm kind of wondering...

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Tired, cranky, headache. Don't want another family birthday. Even if it's my niece's. ::whine::

Since I never seem to have the time to actually sit/lie down and really read anything recently, I haven't much more than browsed through Russell T. Davis's book (although I have started at the beginning now, and it's rather fascinating. Also his frustration with TW 2.1, which I was going to say maybe was the reason why KKBB never completely worked for me, but apparently it got dumped on Chris Chibnall eventually...), reading a couple of pages here and there (so he wasn't completely happy with the Rose/Doctor.2 ending, either), but leafing through the pages I stumbled across this.

Put a man and a woman of roughly the same age on screen and you're telling a story. That's a love story. (Storytelling is very heterosexual in that sense. But that's why gay storytelling is exciting, because the images are still new.) The choice to put those two characters together on screen, in a story, is the crucial thing. Everything else is just detail. And luck. That's what makes you care. The archetypes. They run deep. [...] Man, woman, on screen = love story. Very little work necessary. (p 123)

Which I kind of agree with and kind of disagree, because while it's undoubtedly true, this (and I've said that before) is what for me makes so many of the heterosexual relationship on screen essentially uninteresting. Maybe/probably my brain is simply wired wrong, but if too much of the subsequent story relies just on this, and only this, I'll yawn and and switch off — or start slashing, depending on how interesting the rest of the show and the other characters are. It may be a love story, but it's also often (to me, at any rate) a boring love story. Now I'm not saying that I've never followed or enjoyed one of the will-they-or-won't-they-get-together storylines, but on the whole they don't make for the best storytelling, because once that question is resolved most of the time a) the show is over, b) they're heading towards break-up, or, special bullet point for Joss Whedon, c) someone gets killed.

So generally speaking putting a bit more work and character development into it is not actually a bad thing. The IMO still perfect example of Doing It Right are Sheridan and Delenn on Babylon 5, my OTPest OTP for something like a decade. It's hard to attempt looking at a show one has watched & rewatched with a fresh eye, but was there ever even the suspense of whether they'd get together? I don't think so, or at any rate one was rather more worried about them winning the war and saving the universe. Having a plot that encompasses and mingles action and romance rather than dividing it in two separate storylines, and upsetting a lot of tv gender clichés in the process is what made it so epic and unique. Thank you, MJS. :)

Now Joss Whedon frankly sucks at writing relationships, especially happy relationships, because as a rule he only sets them up to end them in the most painful way possible, but Buffy and Spike, in their own messed up way were a bit like that; even when it always was pretty clear they wouldn't have a happily ever after, they both learned something about themselves and each other in the process, which changed them for the better, it was plotty and not boring to watch. OTOH most of the male/female relationships on Angel were completely uninteresting; Cordelia/Angel as well as the Wesley/Fred/Gunn triangle, because they're indeed little more than man, woman, on screen = love story, and barely that, maybe partly because they never needed to work as relationships for the plot to go forward. I don't think saying that canonically Angel and Wesley had the most complex, if completely fucked up, relationship on that show has anything to do with slash googles, and one day I'm really going to write that essay. Or, Smallville, when I was still watching; Clark/Lex vs. Clark/Lana.

On a similar note, to be perfectly honest, Jack/Ianto would never have caught my interest, and certainly not got me writing all those endless rambling meta posts, if it hadn't come after Cyberwoman with the Fragments backstory and all the... if not exactly canonical, then at least canonically implied complexity and ambiguities resulting from that. So granted, once again a bit messed up, and maybe unhealthily codependent and whatnot, and apparently I've got a faible for that kind of thing, but take that away, and the banter-innuendo-coffee thing would be really kind of boring.

Well, in my opinion. It's pretty obvious that 90+% of fandom differs. Cf. above, brain wired wrong, and all that...

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Tired, and feeling rather blank and thought-less at the end of the third week of M.'s holiday. OToneH I actually like being by myself, without her; the responsibility, as well as having the leisure to actually sit down and read something if there's nothing to do. OTOH, on Monday & today I didn't even have a lunch break, and Tuesday and Wednesday only a very rushed one because R. was coming over, but didn't have a lot of time. Plus, it's hot, hot, hot (damn you, JB), and the electric fan doesn't help a lot, especially if one has to haul books around. Could actually feel my brain slowing down more and more over the afternoon until a complete sentence became a challenge.

As for the sitting down and reading part - one novel by Kathy Reichs (drearily boring, fast forwarded through it reading only enough not to lose track of the plot, and I much prefer the tv series version of Dr. Brennan), one by Simon Beckett (slightly, but not much better, lurid incest plot, and not too original - e.g., annoying reporter girl to forensic protagonist - 'I may know something, but oh noes, I can't break confidence, I can't tell you, woe, dilemma, but maybe I'll tell you tomorrow'; next page - annoying reporter girl: *dies in a fire*. [ profile] solitary_summer: *yawn*), although in both cases the German translation certainly did nothing to make me like it any better. One by Jo Nesbø, which was high literature in comparison, and so interesting that I actually took it home to finish yesterday, but if you're got two gay characters, and one of them is the killer (or more precisely one of the two killers, albeit the rather more likeable one), and the other a drug addict and rapist who makes the killer look positively pleasant by comparison, you're doing it wrong.

Also finished The Fall of Valor, which was an interesting read, although with the (for a gay themed novel written in the 1940ies) obligatory tragic ending. The interesting thing is, it doesn't feel... necessary in a way, not stringent. A possible, but not an inevitable conclusion, and perhaps prompted by the consideration of publication. To quote Thomas Mann's (who apparently also had some issues with it) letter to Ch. Jackson, 'Anyhow, it is possible, and I could not say how to do it differently.' Which he was probably right about at the time, because, as E.M.Forster, who wanted to and did do it differently, and as a consequence found himself with an even less publishable novel on his hands, wrote more than a decade later, 'If it ended unhappily [...] all would be well [...]. But the lovers get away unpunished and consequently recommend crime'.

Still need to listen to Lost Souls, but there's my dilemma with audiobooks all over again. I don't own any, except for Thomas Mann reading Tonio Kröger, and I still haven't finished that, because I never know what to do with them. Car? I rarely drive, and then I prefer music. iPod? Don't own one. Computer? Difficult to focus, at least in the way one focuses on a book when one reads it, because I'll be doing all kinds of other stuff besides listen. Just sitting on the sofa/lying in bed and listening to an audiobook? Feels weird. Also, my decades old CD player seems to be broken. Other options? Can't think of any.

Oh, and regarding my whining about my sister's Traubenwelke paper? She writes she's suddenly a lot more enthusiastic about it, so I guess it was at least worth it. :)

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::yawns:: I guess it would have been too much to ask to be eased gently from holiday-mode into work-mode.

Woke up from a nightmare today where - my sister, I think - killed someone and I spent the the best part of the dream trying to get rid of a plastic bag with (curiously small) body parts. Very relieved to wake up, let me tell you. That's what you get when you're wishing for 'real' nightmares instead of university/work related anxiety dreams. :)


Brief holiday summery.

# Lazy, lazy, lazy. Never even made it to Maishofen, stayed in Salzburg the whole two weeks.

# The single exeption from the general & completely embarrassing laziness was a lot of Russian learning. Once I actually brought myself to open the book & put the CD into the CD player, I really enjoyed it, or at least it wasn't a chore & gave me the sense of having achieved something and actually using my brain for once; I don't know why I kept putting off and off and off until I'd forgotten so much, for one and a half months. My brain works in strange and unfathomable ways. [ETA a couple of tiring work days (& coming home completely braindead) later... oh wait. Question answered.] Repeated, wrote a lot/много писала, and I mean a lot, used up almost a whole spiral notebook, the next person to use the recycling bin is going to wonder, because as it was I couldn't spell at all without checking with the textbook over and over, and sadly knowing how to pronounce the word rarely helps (*is nostalgic for Spanish*), browsed a bit through the rest of our textbook and went through the first six tracks of my vocabulary CD [новые слова изучала]. I hate the early stages of a language when you're hitting walls with every step & can't say anything beyond, Меня зовут Вероника, живу в Вене, русский язык изучаю, because you're lacking the grammar and words. Grr.

At one point, when I was tinkering with my TW fic I started to write g's for d's and cyrillic s's and for a moment couldn't remember how to write a latin one. *headdesk*

# Reading: Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus (reread), and then The Making Of Die Entstehung des Doktor Faustus (new) & more about that later, because the desire to say something even remotely intelligent and coherent is what keeps me from hitting 'post' since Monday-ish; maybe when I've also reread the relevant diary years. Still very brilliant; still completely heartbreakingly sad. Struggled through the music passages like always with only a very shadowy understanding, because my theoretical knowledge stops at being able to read a (simple) score, but repeatedly caught myself at the thought that I must get the CDs. ::facepalm::

Finished Modern Nature and started Smiling in Slow Motion (rereads; & btw, watched The Garden just before I left, which is eerily, elegically beautiful & which I'm going to take a gazillion screencaps of for my screensaver folder to replace the current Torchwood wallpapers); read Dostojewskij's Aufzeichnungen aus dem Kellerloch (one of those books that are just a bit too close for comfort, even if you're aware of enough distance and difference not to actually identify) and Vladimir Sorokin's Der Himmelblaue Speck (No comment here; so far I've always liked his novels, but this was just crazy, and not a little shocking; I've no idea where, if anywhere, he's going with it; probably I've missed the point completely.)

Tried to reread Mrs Dalloway, but while I still love Virgininia Woolf's prose, I can't seem to focus. I stare at a paragraph for minutes, starting over and over, and my mind keeps drifting, I've no idea why.

# Discovered to my complete shock & amazement that I was still fit enough to run through the park, down the whole Hellbrunner Allee and back again without a break. More morning runs. A bit of biking around, to Bad Reichenhall and, once, around the Untersberg, this with a lot of ups & downs, geographically speaking.

# A bit of uninspired (everything too lush & green, too neat & picturesque) photography, although with some surprisingly nice results when I least expected them. Or at least that's what I thought when I quickly looked through the pictures yesterday.

# Watched some old school DW, Genesis of the Daleks, which was a bit... um, archaic?, and, er, maybe kind of stiff when you haven't grown up with it, but I can totally see the cult potential (although I think I prefer modern day Sarah Jane), and City of Death, which I genuinely enjoyed (without politely phrased reservations); funny, with Douglas Adams' touch very recognisable.

# Day-trip to Munich, Lenbachhaus and Pinakothek der Moderne. The former — lots of early Kandinsky landscapes; lovely but almost impossible to appreciate hanging side by side like that, one explosion of colour after another, impossible to chose; frustration at the sudden complete block in my mind at his abstract paintings, fighting my stupid and too literal brain for something like fifteen minutes, trying to make some kind of connection, with some success, but no real understanding. It's strange, or maybe more precisely, fascinating how these things work, or don't work. Earlier that morning I had the rather unsettling experience of looking at a painting and suddenly it kind of... dissolved and all I could see was strokes of paint on a canvas, and it meant nothing at all. It passed, but wtf, brain? Münter, Jawlensky, Marc; Klee, lovely - mystery and subtle humour. Sitting in the garden, the sun coming out after a rainy morning, writing this into my notebook, the square paving stones of the path, greyish- brown, with moss and the occasional small plant growing between them, like a Klee painting. Nothing that I completely loved, but a lot that I liked.

The Pinakothek - More expressionism, since it fit the theme of the day, skipped most of the rest.

# All the time the underlying (although not very worrying) question, why all this, what am I trying to find in all those, books, stories, art — distraction, entertainment, truth, a better understanding of life? Coupled with the suspicion that it all isn't quite real, quite essential, at least looking at it (creating might be different); but what is? The obvious answer is children, but I don't have the least desire for a child. So. ::shrugs:: Also a certain restlessness, dissatisfaction with the sameness & repetition; I think I need a out-of-Austria holiday soonish.

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[Trying to clean up & out all my half-written lj entries before leaving for an offline holiday...]

Naomi Novik, Victory of Eagles

I liked both Throne of Jade and Empire of Ivory rather less than the first volume, and I must admit I'd kind of forgotten about Black Powder War and had to check amazon (and it's a special kind of internet generated laziness that makes you go to amazon rather than five steps to your own bookshelf... *facepalm*) for the name of the fith book on the vague suspicion that there had been a fifth book, and don't remember very much about it other than thinking Stephen Maturin wouldn't have thought twice about pulling that trigger, and I doubt would even have let Jack (much less William Laurence) stop him, actually given the opportunity to shoot Napoleon.

Victory of Eagles, though, I really enjoyed and IMO is the best book of the series so far along with His Majesty's Dragon, ... )

On a rather different note, what I find refreshing (perhaps an unfair generalisation, but having read Victory of Eagles right after Lynn Flewelling's latest novel it really stands out) is that for an author who comes out of, and still is involved with, fandom, specifically the slash corner of it, her writing is almost completely free of fandom tropes of any kind. If there's any 'ship' dynamic at all, it was, especially in the first book, in a clever twist of things between Laurence and Temeraire, which I suspect can't be entirely coincidental with Temeraire taking Stephen Maturin's part as the outside observer who criticises the practices and absurdities of military hierarchy and human society, the advocate of democracy. Not to mention the tendril-stroking thing. *g*

Which brings me to another point... I've been wondering for a while, but most recently apropos Shadows Return, which sacrificed the comparative complexity of the earlier volumes' political plots to become one long, self-indulgent and almost entirely relationship driven hurt/comfort slave!fic that just barely skirts mpreg, with only token appearances by the minor characters (who hadn't been so minor before, either), whether it was fandom that made me look at fiction in terms of tropes and kinks, or whether the close interaction between fandom and professional authors that the internet offers makes authors more likely to... It doesn't even have to be conscious pandering to the audience, but does being so familiar with fandom and knowing exactly what will get you readers (and it's commonplace that at least in fandom even mediocre slash will get a writer more comments and publicity especially when it's the right pairing than good gen) - consciously or subconciously - influence a writer's decisions?

... )

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12:30 at work is when my brain decides to have thinky thoughts about everything from random trivia to Life, the Universe and Everything. Not when M. or B. are there, because then if you aren't working you're socialising, but when I'm alone, when there isn't any work to be done except dusting which can wait for the next day, and not too many customers to distract me, my brain tends to wander. During M.'s last holiday I -- not exactly wrote, except for a few sentences or fragmented phrases here and there, but plotted a good part of the never-to-be-finished-but-fun-while-it-lasted TW fic.

When I come home in the evening there is barely anything left; mind wiped blank, no real will (or need) to write, words slip away or suddenly lack conviction and whatever thoughts I had before seem stale and a bit alien. No longer quite true, or quite me. Language and thoughts/feelings drifting in different directions...


Watched The Tempest a couple of days ago; didn't dislike it, but didn't find particularly inspiring or compelling either. Too short maybe, just barely telling the story? Or perhaps I've missed the point? But then, I remember almost nothing of Peter Greenaway's version (even the title only when The Tempest didn't turn up what I was looking for on beyond having seen it (before The Baby of Mâcon put me off Greenaway's films for pretty much forever), so maybe the play just doesn't strike the right note with me...

I've also started to reread Modern Nature, which I originally read when I was around 20, 21ish, while working on an excavation in Enns in summer, shocking one of the other students (I still remember her saying how The Crying Game had made her want to throw up, so I thought she deserved another shock or two) who wanted to know what I was reading on the train, and probably pretty much convinced her I was a lesbian. Which I wish I could be more certain about after all this time, instead of just not being very interested in anyone. Er, tangent.

I think I actually like the journals better than the films, the poetry of them, interweaving memories, art, sex, death, love, illness, film, politics, and always returning to the leitmotif of the sea and the sky, the landscape at Dungeness, and the garden he builds against the elements and against time.

Admittedly my fascination with the garden is probably the romantic escapism of a city person who managed to kill all but the hardiest potted plants, and types away at her computer listening to the noisy grasshoppers (?) in the yard. Still though, the descriptions of the garden always seduces me, and make me vaguely long for something like that, because it seems such a real thing, in touch with life...
solitary_summer: (schilf)
Busy week getting up at six every day for physiotherapy (too-often-for-comfort recurring pain in my lower back/hip/leg that I finally decided to see a doctor about; apparently caused by some kind of, for lack of a better word, knot in the muscle) before work. It would probably help more if I hadn't been unpacking a whole pallet of books yesterday, and more today. I was really feeling fine on Wednesday. *sigh*


Finished re-reading A Passage To India; somehow I didn't remember it being quite as disillusioned/depressing, but I still/again love this book so much. It's a crying shame that between what he wanted to write and what he could publish this should have been Forster's last novel.

Maybe it's a good idea revisiting the books from a period of my life where I was, in hindsight, the happiest. At any rate picking up Forster again helped me quite a bit towards regaining a better mental balance, because while he has ideals, he isn't dogmatic. Individuality, difference and variety of human experience; I realised that (paradoxically) therapy somehow made me lose track of that, chasing after some kind of elusive ideal and losing myself a bit in the process. (That's for another entry though, or this one will never be finished...)

Mostly I'm procrastinating (but really kind of enjoying it) and finally watching the DVDs I'd bought when amazon tempted me with offers, but somehow never got around to actually watch; S1 of Rome, which I really liked for the first seven episodes -- good cast; Casar (as well as most of the big historical figures) seemed a bit lacking in charisma for me, but maybe he wasn't supposed to have too much; OTOH Octavian was very well cast with those sudden flashes of brilliancy and coldness, as well as Atia and the other women, both Vorenus and Pullo were fantastic especially during the first half of the season, and hello!, Suzie from Torchwood. *g*

The Kleopatra episode, however, is horrid; racist beyond what I'd have believed possible at the beginning of the 21st century, to the point where it makes me wonder if it wasn't some vague modern anti-Eastern prejudice mixed into the Ancient Roman anti-Eastern prejudice. And while I mostly want to be entertained rather than nit-pick historical details, will people eventually get it into their heads that the Ptolemies were Macedonians? And after that, instead of culminating in tragedy, the show somehow peters out in melodrama. It still has its strong moments, but the plot becomes a bit lurid and soap-opera-esque when Servilia manipulates Octavia into seducing her brother, the scheming repetitive, Vorenus' moral dilemmas ditto, and the characters are simply not compelling enough any more. Considering that it is common knowledge that (and how) Ceasar will die, it somehow lacked the tension and proper dramatic build-up necessary to keep one's (or my, at any rate) interest.


Tool are always a bit too pretentious for me to really fangirl them, but I listened to Lateralus again driving home from feeding & cleaning & petting the horse last Wednsday, and this song is still pure genius.

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Dear asshole dog-owners,

Admittedly I'd kind of missed that this was a dog-zone and I wasn't supposed to bike through there, but this still is no reason to physically stop me and explain this fact to me while I'm being surrounded by your three madly barking, not very friendly dogs one of whom actually nipped my ankle, trying to keep my my legs out of their reach and getting increasingly panicky, while you and your girlfriend are completely unable or unwilling to control them. No thanks for rekindling my fear of dogs that I'd kind of got rid of,



In pleasanter news, I lost about half of my hair at the hairdresser today, which makes it shorter than it's been since I was nine or ten - chin length in front, really short in the back; I just hope it'll still look nice when it only gets my quick head-down-blow-dry treatment.


Am I getting crankier and harder to please the older I get? I've finished Lynn Flewelling's Shadows Return and am not very enthusiastic about it. The characters are all there, but they walk through the plot a bit lifelessly, so that despite the rather high angst level spoilers ) I found it hard to really care about what happens to them. The whole thing feels a bit... sketchy? slapdash? fanfiction-like? Some of the ideas could be interesting, but I don't find the execution and the result very compelling. It might have to do something with the fact that while Shadows Return has about the same amount of pages as the earlier volumes, the font is visibly larger, and in terms of wordcount it must be about a quarter to a third shorter than any of them, which would explain why the plot seem rather less complex and the writing less detailed in general.

Same with Life on Mars. I finished S2 last weekend and while I liked the last two episodes better than the previous six ones, I never was really happy with S2. The main problem for me was that to make Sam's betrayal at least somewhat plausible the characterisations and the antagonism were more extreme than in S1, and a bit too extreme for my taste; The Gene Hunt of S1 I more or less believed when he said there were lines he wouldn't cross, S2 Gene Hunt I'm a lot less sure about. And Philip Glenister is a fantastic actor who is reduced to stereotypical yelling and punching in S2 far too often. Another problem is that all the episodes that tackle the big issues and -isms while trying to balance historical accuracy with 21st century values are at least slightly awkward, even when they're trying to do it right, or especially then. Personally I find the fact that it takes Sam to inspire his future superior to become the man Sam will admire a lot more problematic than the casual 1973 racism. I suppose what they were going for with the story-line was that both in Sam and Gene's case the people they idolised were, or turned out to be, not that perfect after all, but in these specific circumstances it comes off as more than a little patronising. And on the whole I just find it easier to ignore the subtle sexism that keeps Annie in uniform as a matter of fact in S1; the blatant and constant in-your (her)-face sexist remarks once she's promoted are much harder to take from characters I'm supposed to find likeable.

And the end is a bit too nostalgic and escapist for my taste. Maybe it would have been better to just have Sam jump, and fade to black, the end, no clear resolution.


Eh. Sometimes I think I'm too stupid for the smart tv shows. All the clever people love Farscape, while for me that's the closest I've ever come to watching a show just for Teh Pretty. OTOH, Torchwood, which something like 95% of fandom is only watching for the slash factor? Watch [ profile] solitary_summer write. And analyse. And write some more. And, hey, amazon has just dispatched my S2 DVDs.... :)


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March 2013

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